The Rise of the Digital Court Reporter

Over the past few years, there has been a growing need for remote court reporters. Though some of their job duties are the same as an in-person reporter, this unique position provides plenty of benefits to clients. With the help of audio and video equipment, these professionals deliver an accurate transcript of depositions.

Let’s take a look at the rise of the remote court reporter.

Rise of the Remote Court Reporter: What Does a Court Reporter Do?

Whether in-person or remote, a court reporter plays a vital role in the legal process. They transcribe meetings, trials, conferences, depositions, and hearings. With their help, you have a word-for-word transcription of all testimonies during a deposition.

Some court reporters track the legal recordings in real-time, while others transcribe from a recorded video or audio. Skilled court reporters will transcribe testimonies from several speakers. Most professionals reach a transcription speed of 225 words per minute.

Some court reporters hold a post-secondary degrees. However, most have obtained professional certification. No matter the education level, court reporters possess several skills, including, at a minimum:

  • Precise listening and writing skills
  • Excellent concentration levels
  • Strong attention to detail

All transcriptions become legal records. For that reason, the court reporter must have a high level of accuracy. A professional court reporter often exceeds the industry standard of 95%.

Why Court Reporters Are Important

Only qualified personnel should handle these court reporting duties, as all legal proceedings need perfectly accurate documentation. These transcripts are part of the official documents and can make a difference in the outcome of a legal proceeding.

Court reporters protect the legal process by detailing the proceedings and making official transcripts mandatory. Attorneys, judges, and even the higher courts often require the records to review wrongdoing during a trial or deposition.

But officials cannot identify those issues without written or digital records. These transcripts safeguard the legal process from any unlawful acts with an accurate recording of all the proceedings.

Well-documented transcripts assist attorneys in preparing for trial, especially as it pertains to depositions. The attorneys review the testimonies of witnesses to prepare their cases. These witnesses can make or break a case for the defendant or plaintiff.

Court reporters write in a short-hand form and then convert the short-hand to English with the help of stenography translation software. This process is similar to text-to-speech software but with a human touch.

These transcriptions are essential to the judicial process. Court reporters allow attorneys and judges immediate access to the records. Even those with hearing difficulties can understand the depositions with help from transcribed records.

Ultimately, court reporters are an integral part of providing access for those who need to seek justice.

Does a Digital Court Reporter Work Differently Than a Stenographic Court Reporter?

Digital court reporting is also called electronic court reporting. Over the past decade, this method of reporting has made its way into many depositions throughout the United States.

Digital reporting involves professional-level recording equipment. These court reporters use high-quality equipment to record and transcribe the proceedings. Video recorders or microphones record meetings, trials, or depositions. The digital court reporter and their team oversee the entire process, from capturing the audio to transcribing it.

All of the digital annotations have time-stamps to the corresponding digital audio. Any party can listen to any certain point of the audio or video that they believe is relevant to the testimony.

Though it may seem like a stenographic court reporter and a digital court reporter have similar job responsibilities, a digital court reporter needs a different set of skills and qualifications. In many cases, a digital court reporter doesn’t need to use a stenography machine or learn short-hand.

That doesn’t mean that a digital court reporter is less qualified to handle legal transcriptions; rather, they are qualified in different and additional ways.

Digital court reporters take down notes during depositions or other legal proceedings. There is a log note of the speakers’ identifications and specific keywords that outline the digital recording.

These professionals must have a thorough knowledge of digital recording equipment. The reporter needs to maintain and operate all the devices and software, as well as understand the different parts of the legal process in order to provide support during depositions.

Related: Stenographic and Digital Court Reporters vs Digital Recordings – What’s the difference?

Is a Reliable Outcome Possible with Digital Court Reporting?

With the accuracy and skills of an in-person stenographic court reporter, why should you choose a digital reporter?

Specialized Digital Audio

One reason is that the digital equipment captures high-quality audio. Attorneys, clients, and judges can directly review the best possible audio format from the proceeding. During the deposition, the quality and volume of the audio are continuously monitored by the digital reporter.

In many cases, the digital court reporters don’t use one audio capture device but several of them. In that case, you don’t have to worry about one machine breaking down, and losing all of the records. Audio backups ensure that the parties have complete documentation of the deposition, no matter what technical difficulty may arise.

A digital court reporter uses only state-of-the-art equipment to record legal proceedings. In many cases, the reporter has at least two audio backups, an audio mixer, specialty software, a laptop, and speakers.

In addition to this, the witnesses and attorneys are often equipped with Lavalier microphones. All witnesses and attorneys have a separate sound channel assigned to them. An omnidirectional microphone records additional background audio. This microphone is also given an independent channel.

Contentious legal proceedings often have several people talking at once. An in-person reporter might have difficulty hearing this dialogue. In contrast, if several parties speak simultaneously, the digital recording device captures these voices on independent channels.

Digital court reporting gives you the ability to have multi-track recordings. You can understand everyone’s statements, especially if parties are talking over each other, speaking in an accent, or are just difficult to understand. All parties receive a complete and accurate transcription with such a voice isolation feature.

Many in-person stenographic court reporters have to instruct the speakers to slow down or repeat parts of the testimony. However, none of those issues present themselves with a digital court reporter.

The transcription process allows all parties to speak naturally in court. That audio can help verify verbatim parts of the deposition.

Video Recordings

Attorneys have started to appreciate digital videos alongside digital court reporting, as they can examine witnesses’ and defendants’ non-verbal and verbal reactions any number of times.

With a written transcription, you don’t have the complete picture of the legal proceeding. Digital audio and video record the entire event. That reduces the chance of inaccurate documentation.

There is little room for mistakes with a digital recording of the proceedings. These depositions take place through live video conferences. Some of these witnesses and attorneys can participate from different locations.

Digital court reporters and remote depositions make the process much more accessible for all parties, as nobody needs to travel to a physical location. These proceedings can be set up around everyone’s schedule without extensive travel or accommodations being necessary.

The digital reporter will keep all the parties on time and organized through an online platform. With proper organization, there is less chance of delays for your ligation.

Transcripts, videos, documents, and exhibits are all collected in one place. 

Related: Guide to Hiring a Remote Court Reporter or Stenographer

Are There Platforms that Allow the Digital Court Reporter To Work Efficiently in a Remote Deposition?

Some digital court reporters work as independent contractors. But others choose to work through online platforms to reach their clients. Online platforms are quickly becoming the best way to connect both attorneys and clients with each other.

With COVID-19, it can be challenging to get everyone to meet in person. These platforms allow digital court reporters to conduct depositions through video conferencing.

All exhibits are preloaded into a secure portal on many of these specialized platforms. Those documents are private until they are ready to be shared with other parties. The reporter can also load documents during the deposition with an online portal. In turn, unexpected delays decrease.

In an online platform, all of the exhibits are annotated in a live environment. The digital court reporter can highlight paragraphs or initial a particular area of the testimony. With these live annotations, it can be easy for the reporter or other parties to review specific parts of the deposition in real-time.

On many platforms, the audio is captured along with the video as well. Most digital court reporters prefer to work with a platform that uses time-stamps and HD-quality video. All videos of witnesses, plaintiffs, and defendants are viewed in a high-quality format. Those videos are often immediately available after a deposition. 

In the courtroom, clients and attorneys confer in a sidebar. To mimic this, specialized legal platforms often feature secure sidebar rooms. With that, witnesses can consult with a client. 

Some platforms offer a live text stream of the depositions, and all words are converted to text, providing an easier way to follow the live proceedings.

The digital court reporter needs to keep track of multiple pieces of equipment. A specialized legal platform makes the reporter’s job easier when there is less software needed to complete the different elements of their job correctly.

Remote Depositions Are Good, But You Also Need Experienced Reporters

During the past few years, court reporting services and technology have moved at lightning speed to meet the needs of litigants. However, remote depositions are only as good as the specialized legal features they offer and their experienced court reporters. These professionals must understand the legal process, and confidently direct witnesses and attorneys during the proceedings.

Plus, these reporters have to manage all of the video, audio, and stamping of exhibits throughout the deposition. Since depositions are critical to the legal process, there is no room for error.

When using an online platform, these services have their own vetted digital court reporters. These professionals understand how to conduct depositions and use the latest equipment. If you find the right remote deposition platform, you never have to worry about hiring someone without the right experience.

They will keep the meeting on track and update it with the appropriate documents. Professional, well-trained digital court reporters understand the importance of these depositions.

With an experienced court reporter, you will not have to worry about your next remote deposition. A professional digital court reporter will handle it efficiently and securely.

The Future of the Digital Court Reporter and Remote Depositions

The need for digital court reporters and remote depositions will continue to rise over the next few years because these depositions are both convenient and cost-effective.

The ability to hold remote depositions also removes any limitations for witnesses or attorneys regarding meeting in person. These professionals deliver accurate documentation of your legal proceedings without that physical meeting requirement. You will not see that with an in-person court reporter. As a result, the need for remote, digital court reporters will continue to be in high demand.

An Easier Way To Conduct Legal Depositions

With Remote Legal, you have access to our experienced digital court reporters. In addition, our platform goes much further than the typical video conferencing software. Created just for legal proceedings, it offers everything you need for remote depositions. Using a platform that is secure and meets all legal industry standards, you can gain access to online exhibits, upload documents, consult with clients, and more with a few clicks of a button. Plus, we provide accurate and detailed transcriptions of every testimony. Now is the time to move your depositions into the future. If you want to learn about our digital court reporting services, schedule a demo today.

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